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Robbins, B. (1975). The Structure of Personality. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(2):175-181.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(2):175-181

The Structure of Personality

Bernard Robbins, M.D.

In this one paper, I can hope to give no more than a very brief and rather general survey of what I conceive a personality to be and how it functions in our society in general. The difficulty is that when we speak of a personality we are actually referring to the sum total of a person's actions, reactions, and attitudes toward himself and others. In effect, what will be discussed here is a person's relationship with himself and his relationship with others. Because these two relationships complement and supplement each other, one can easily perceive how an adequate discussion of them would have to consist of many, many papers, rather than just one.

Because much of what motivates a person's feelings toward himself and others are drives and impulses of which he is completely unconscious (except under special circumstances and with the employment of special diagnostic treatment, in particular, psychoanalysis) my discussion will center around those convictions of which the person is not aware. Although we see these attitudes reflected in the behavior and activity of the person, personality as such is for the most part determined by quite unconscious factors.

When I speak of the sum total of a person's attitudes toward himself and others, I am not speaking of a literal addition of these trends. For example, a personality does not consist of a need for power plus a need for love plus greed plus inquisitiveness plus a need for approval. A personality consists of the constant play and interplay of ideas, the constant reinforcing of ideas, the constant opposition and contradiction of ideas — in short, the incessant motion, rather than the simple addition, of many factors.

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